A Question for Jesus

Many God-fearing people feel that religion should be involved in politics. They believe that religion can play a vital part in solving humankind’s problems. However, other sincere believers think that religion and politics should be separate. What do you personally think of religion’s role in politics? Should those powerful forces work hand-in-hand?

JESUS CHRIST has been described as “the most influential figure in the religious history of mankind.” So, imagine that we could ask him the question, Should religion be involved in politics? What would he say? While on earth, he answered that question by his words and deeds. For instance, in his renowned Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave guidelines that help his followers to discern what role they should play in their communities. Let us consider some points from that famous sermon.

 Touch the Life of Others

Jesus described the attitude his followers should have toward the world. He stated: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its strength, how will its saltness be restored? It is no longer usable for anything but to be thrown outside to be trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:13-16) Why did Jesus compare his followers to salt and light?

Jesus’ words imply that his followers are like salt, not for just a small group, but for all of mankind. They are like light, not for a limited number of people, but for all who want to see clearly. By using those word pictures, Jesus made it clear that he did not want his followers to isolate themselves from society. Why not?

Note the following: Salt cannot preserve food if it is not mixed with a food item. A lamp cannot dispel darkness from a room if the lamp is kept away from that room. It is, therefore, no wonder that Jesus never commanded his disciples to move to an isolated corner of the earth to establish communities of believers. Nor did he encourage his followers to live insulated lives behind the walls of religious institutions. Instead, as salt needs to touch food and light needs to dispel darkness, so Christians need to have an impact on the lives of others.

“No Part of the World”

However, Jesus’ instructions that his followers should interact with their fellow men raise an important question about a Christian’s attitude toward politics. Why so? Shortly before his death, Jesus prayed to God in behalf of his followers: “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:15, 16) So, then, how is it possible for Christians to be no part of the world but, at the same time, be involved in their local community? To find out, let us consider three additional questions:

• How did Jesus view politics?

• What should Christians do today?

• How do Christian teachings affect communities?

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Jesus made it clear that he did not want his followers to isolate themselves from society